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The Road to Detroit: the 2007 SDS National Convention

sds 2007 national convention
I hope to see you all there this weekend! I'll be driving up with some friends Friday afternoon/evening. If you still need a ride, there are still some seats available if you live near large cities (NYC, D.C., etc.).

Pulling info from the SDS wiki, I've laid out and PDF'd a handy map and schedule of events, though of course there might be some last-minute changes.

One of the reasons the refounding of SDS got be all in bunches is SDS' emphasis on agitating for student power (generally called student syndicalism in some circles). Thankfully several workshops this weekend will focus on student power: what to win, how to win it, etc.:

Organizing for Power (Saturday 1:55PM)
This workshop will address how change is made by exploring key organizing concepts, fleshing out strategic campaigns and understanding escalating tactics. Visuals from an array of protests and movements as well as participatory exercises will provide opportunities for lessons. - Presented by Lisa Fithian (convention facilitator)

Building a Culture of Strategy in SDS (Sunday 1PM)
Everyone is talking about strategy and how much we need it. Yet strategy is often ill defined and vague. So what is strategy? "Strategy is doing what we can do today, so that tomorrow we can do, what we cannot do today." -Brazilian Revolutionary Paulo Freire. Strategy is our plan to win movement goals and how that plan informs all of the day-to-day choices we make in our SDS organizing. So which strategies will work? Luckily we can look to some movements of the past to help us answer this question. This workshop will look at strategic principles past movements have used to win, win, win. Cause that's what I want to do too. The tools we will use are interactive and tailored to the organizing challenges we face on our campuses and in our communities. We will leave this workshop with concrete ways to implement a greater culture of strategy in our groups. The tools will focus on: -The importance of having short-term measurable goals that help build the bigger movement. -How to choose tactics that will best move us toward those goals (when to throw which punches!) -Ways to evaluate what we have done so we are always getting better and better. -Mapping out society to identify our allies and the best ways to reach them. We will also explore some of our underlying motivations for being change agents (i.e. bad asses who will stop at nothing short of creating a new society) and how those motivations affect our strategic choices. - Presented by Madeline Gardner of UMN sds, Matthew Smucker (convention facilitator)

Student syndicalism, building the "popular front" (Monday 10AM)
The purpose of this workshop is to discuss strategies on building popular front movements on your campus that remain relevant to the campus body as a whole, maintain a level of credibility and seek to build a radical democratic transformation. We will discuss Ohio Universities strategy for student power (its successes and its failures). We will discuss reaching out to non political organizations on campus.) We will also discuss strategies of escalation and how some actions can alienate or expand participation in your campaign. Oftentimes (if not always) the framework and rules created by the university administration are used to suppress popular campus movements, we will discuss how to use these rules and the administrations framework against them, what tactics the administration may seek to use to quell your campus movement. and how to use the press and the student senate to further your cause. Lastly we will look towards the coming year and the possibility of coordinating our popular campus movements and how outside SDS chapters can help facilitate success. - Presented by Will, Hank, Olivia, Art and Anthony. from Athens SDS

Organizing Chicago: Dorm to Dorm Networking (Monday 10AM)
The workshop would center around using organizers inside dorms to organize students. It would draw on the experience of the Iraq Research Project and critically analyze what happened and how we can move forward with dorm organizing. A number of Chicago SDSers will be asked to contribute towards a picture of what strategies were used in the past year and which worked and which didn't. The discussion will include a debate on how the SDS organization in Chicago should be structured to best facilitate dorm to dorm organizing and how such a city structure could be scaled up towards a midwest and a national structure. - Presented by Nick Kreitman of Chicago sds